The Happy Host


With summer comes graduation parties, cookouts with friends, and the occasion to hang out with neighbors by the pool. Hooray! Entertaining can be loads of fun, but too often we don’t host a gathering because the thought of it is overwhelming.

Want to be The Hostess with the Mostess? Consider these pointers for happy hosting:

Invite the Right Mix of Guests: Think about your purpose for hosting the event. Small or large gathering? Fancy or casual? Only friends from work? Lots of cool friends from your different worlds (work, neighborhood, church) that you’d like to introduce to each other? Adults or families? If having a small dinner party, consider your guest list and seat appropriately. Above all else, people make a gathering. There is nothing better than gathering those you cherish.

Be Welcoming: As your guest arrive, be available to welcome them. I’m talking about a warm welcome that lets them know that you are happy that they are there. I was impressed this week when our family attended a graduation party and the high school graduate broke away from his friends upon our arrival to welcome us. That Mama taught her son well!

Introduce Your Guests to Each Other: Hook  up the new family on the block with the people who have kids of similar age. Do your part of being a conversation Match Maker. Guy from work trying to be a wall flower? Don’t let it happen! Pull him in! This is the true work of being a good hostess. Mix and mingle my friends. Mix and mingle.

Have Enough Food and Drink: You don’t need 20 dishes. Offer fewer items, but have plenty. KISS – Keep it Simple Silly. Featuring a theme drink if you are having a grown-up party always is festive.  Sugar Plum Martinis are the center stage of our annual Bunco Christmas dinner at my house.

Don’t Be A Wonder-Host:If you fall into the category of “I don’t know how to cook/select wine/get cool tunes on my I-Pod….” don’t sweat it. Reach out to those that ARE good at those things. Ask the friend who rocks at putting together the party music  if he would be willing to bring along his tunes. Use your BFF’s Wine Snob status to your advantage and take her along for the ride when you select the beverages (make sure you have non-alcoholic drinks for the non-drinkers too). Who said you need to cook everything? Cater a portion of the spread or make it a pot luck. People love sharing their favorite dishes. Friends may want to co-host with you. They get to experience all the fun of hosting a party, but don’t need to clean their house beforehand! Sweeeeet!

Remember the Play Date Basics You Teach Your Kids: Your guests get the very best you have to offer and they always go first.

Plan Ahead:Get as much done as you can in advance. It makes the day/night of your shindig much more relaxing for you. You’ll be able to enjoy your company and they will be able to enjoy you. Don’t feel like your patio needs to look like a page from Pottery Barn or Better Homes and Gardens. The warm and friendly atmosphere you create will far outweigh the “stuff” (although I must admit I have a bit of an obsession with cute, coordinating paper products and funny cocktail napkins).

Just Do It! Don’t be so caught up in having everything “just so” that you never entertain. Often the simplest of gatherings are the best. Invite the neighbors over for dessert or make your own ice cream sundaes. Pull out a few bottles of wine, some gourmet cheeses and invite three or four couples over for drinks. Invite families over and watch the kids run through the sprinkler or have a water balloon fight. We love a good game of adults vs. kids kick ball, although sadly enough our kids are getting older and can serve up a good whompin’ to the adults.

A Final Thank You: Always say good bye to your guests and thank them (yes, they will thank you too) for coming. A close friend of mine always takes the time to send a quick e-mail or text thanking me for coming to her annual luncheon. It’s a classy touch.

A gracious host does not have to be all things Martha. A gracious host makes his/her guest feel welcomed by the warmth he/she exudes. Appreciate the joy in entertaining as you surround yourself with friends and loved-ones. Happy Entertaining!

Mind Your Manners,



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